Who Won the Week? Wahoos, BYU, Lumberjacks, But Not Hoosiers or Hoyas

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2014

wonweek

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that outlines and discusses three winners and losers from the previous week of hoops. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), a Spokane-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game. That’s tough to do when the closest game in the week is two states away. There’s four schools, in four different conferences, within 90 minutes of his house. Figure it out, schedule-makers.

WINNER: Virginia

The Cavaliers picked off a pair of pesky road games, winning at a bubble-bound Clemson and pesky rival Virginia Tech, and  – thanks to timely losses from Syracuse and Duke – have the inside track on their first outright ACC title since 1980-81, when Ralph Sampson was a sophomore. In Saturday’s 63-58 win against the Tigers, four Virginia players scored in double digits, led by senior guard Joe Harris’ 16. Tuesday’s 57-53 win over the Hokies was a little uglier, with sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon leading the team with 12 points, but he and Harris combined to shoot 5 for 21 from the field. The molasses-slow Hoos haven’t crested 70 possessions in a game this season, but their 10-game winning streak dates back to a 69-65 loss at Duke on Jan. 13, their only stumble in conference play. Their last four games are Notre Dame, Miami and Syracuse at home before a road trip to Maryland.

Malcolm Brogdon Has Helped the Cavs Turn the Corner (Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty)

Malcolm Brogdon Has Helped the Cavs Turn the Corner
(Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty)

(Related winners:  Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who coaches the best basketball you don’t ever want to watch. Related losers: Duke, which after losing to rival North Carolina cannot win the conference unless Syracuse and Virginia to both lose each game they play not against each other; Syracuse, no longer undefeated and now the only top-20 team with a loss to a team outside the top 150 of the RPI.)

LOSER: Indiana

It’s tough to tell which is falling apart faster: the Hoosiers’ season or Assembly Hall. Indiana got smoked by in-state rival Purdue 82-64 for its third straight loss and now sits at 14-11 and 4-8 in Big Ten play. Cold shooting did the Hoosiers in, with a 39 percent effective field goal rate against a team that usually gives up nearly 48 percent effective shooting. Oh, and Tuesday’s game against Iowa was postponed when a large piece of metal came unfastened from storied Assembly Hall’s roof, falling into the seats. Since then, more pieces of the ceiling have been found to be unsound, so who knows what’s going to happen in that regard. But as poorly as the Hoosiers are playing, maybe any distraction is welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

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Notes From a Pac-12 Media Day, UCLA is Still Slow Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2013

Adam Butler of Pachoops.com (@pachoopsab) joins us as a guest columnist for the second straight year. He took in the Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday.

Pac-12 Coaches Got Their Media Day On Yesterday (credit: P12)

Pac-12 Coaches Got Their Media Day On Yesterday (credit: P12)

Washington State

Despite being picked to finish last, Ken Bone did not seem too concerned. He was, however, concerned about his team’s inability to close games last year and he wore a portion of that blame; letting us all know that his team’s lack of composure down the stretch lay partially on his shoulders. Though some of it could be tossed up to luck, for which we consult KenPom. The Cougars were the 345 luckiest team in the country last year. For context, that means there were only two other teams that were less lucky. And to contextualize quantified luck, it’s to say that their actual success (or lack thereof) was below their predicted success and therefore: unlucky. They lost the close ones and the thought is that this trend would normalize and the Cougars wouldn’t, say, finish last. With that and mind, and the return of DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge, Bone thinks he might have something a little better than the cellar cooking.

Oregon State

Craig Robinson jumped right in to things by telling us about how much more frontcourt depth he’s going to have. He did mention the other guy on stage with him, Roberto Nelson (18/3/2), then dove right into the return of Angust Brandt and Daniel Gomis, a player who’s been on campus for three years with nary a game played. CRob was re-introducing us to more than 13 additional feet of frontcourt to be added to Eric Moreland (more later), Devon Collier, and Olaf Schaftenaar. Big Beavers. So on to Moreland. According to Robinson, he’s irreplaceable; which makes it really difficult when he’s suspended for the season’s first 14 games. So how do you replace the irreplaceable? Well you put a positive twist on it, elevate the roles of a few peripheral guys and say, “What I think is going to happen is we’re going to have more tools in our toolkit to use once Eric does come back.” I liked that and I also liked that, when asked about impact newcomers to the Pac-12, Robinson didn’t bother (much) on Aaron Gordon or Jabari Bird. He told us about his new guys: Cheikh N’diaye, Malcolm Duvivier, and Hallice Cooke. Good for you, coach.

Utah

His first year in Utah was “survival.” He’d brought in something like 12-if-not-more newcomers and he just needed to survive. That year the Utes were in the conversation for worst High Major team of all time. Like I said, Larry Krystkowiak called it survival. And then there was last year and now we find ourselves here. Drake might call it starting from the bottom but I won’t soon put the Utes at the top (which is what I assume Drake implies through his lyrics and that he’s not a middling Pac-12 team). “I think that playing hard is a talent,” Larry K said. And it was that level of talent he’s had to rely on. But now he’s starting to see an influx. His culture hasn’t changed but there may be “a few more stars behind their name.” Insinuating that K thinks he just might have a slightly more talented squad and some higher expectations for where his team could go. And if nothing else, he claims to have a deep squad. Something he’ll use to exploit their distinct altitude advantage. That high up he wants to run people out of the gym with their depth and altitude aptitude. And if nothing else, he can rely on all-freshman performer Jordan Loveridge for survival. A young man K has asked to be a leader, “[Coach Krystkowiak] challenged me to lead more verbally.” We know the Utes are high up, but are they up for the challenge?

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ATB: Revival of Tennessee’s Offense, Belmont’s Place In the OVC, and Anthony Bennett’s FrOY Candidacy…

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 14th, 2012

ATB

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Tonight’s Lede. Finals Week Is Nearly Gone. On a night dominated by talks of revolutionary conference transformation and the impending destruction of one of the sport’s proudest and most successful leagues in the past quarter century, paying any real attention to games – outside of a few noteworthy outcomes – was hardly anyone’s first priority. The good news is, thanks to the college hoops fan nightmare we like to call finals week, there weren’t many games worth watching in the first place. If you’re looking for big storylines or massive statement-making wins, Thursday night’s slate provided none of the sort. Instead, we witnessed the denouement of finals week torpor, and can now officially start looking ahead towards the biggest non-conference game of the season: Saturday’s Florida-Arizona showdown in Tucson. Tonight’s recap will underscore the recent scheduling lull, which only means you’ll feel doubly excited for Saturday’s big-time sampling. So here’s to the final remnants of college hoops’ weakest offering of games. May you rest in peace… at least until next season.

Your Watercooler Moment. Tennessee’s Offense Has Sparked To Life.

The Volunteers showed signs they're moving out of their offensive slump (photo credit: AP photo).

The Volunteers showed signs they’re moving out of their offensive slump (photo credit: AP photo).

The only thing more impressive than Tennessee scoring 69 points at home to knock off undefeated Wichita State is that the Volunteers did it despite star big man Jarnell Stokes logging just 18 minutes. Even if Stokes hadn’t gotten wrapped up in foul trouble, the Volunteers’ 69-point output is encouraging for several reasons. For one, Wichita State has put to rest any notion that losing four starters from last season’s five-seed would prevent another MVC title challenge. The Shockers have quality wins over VCU and Iowa, and are defending like a top-30 team, to the point where last season’s 18th-ranked defensive efficiency is within one percentage point of this year’s mark (89.8) to date. For another, Tennessee had failed to break the 50-point threshold in its past two games, consecutive losses to Georgetown and Virginia. Granted, both teams rank among the nation’s top 10 teams in per-possession defense, but when you boast one of the top five-or-so centers in the country, along with a bevy of talented guards to provide a capable perimeter scoring complement, there’s no excuse for getting held under 50 points. It’s really that simple. The Volunteers were a trendy pick to broach the SEC power triumvirate – Florida, Kentucky, Missouri – but had failed to substantiate that praise with anything resembling a quality win thus far. Knocking off Wichita State, a Top 25 team in its own right, is a good sign, but I’m loath to acknowledge the Volunteers have officially put their scoring woes in the rearview mirror. Upcoming tests against Xavier and Memphis before entering SEC play will serve as a barometer of whether Tennessee has finally unlocked its offensive quagmire or whether tonight’s performance was a minor positive blip that can’t be sustained over the long term.

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Anthony Bennett: Best Freshman In the Country? The silver lining in Mike Moser’s month-long injury-related absence is that UNLV’s frontcourt rotation will benefit from more minutes and greater opportunities to carve out bigger roles over the long run. Most importantly, we’ll see even more Anthony Bennett, who Thursday night lead the Rebels with 27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in a comfortable win over La Verne, and who thus far is making as strong a case as any for Freshman of the Year. The vast majority of preseason freshman big man hype was directed towards Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. Neither player has underperformed expectations – Noel’s offensive game needs work, but we knew as much coming in; Austin has been as lanky, stretchy, and, at times, flimsy as advertised – but there’s no disputing Bennett has been the best of the three. When Pitt big man Khem Birch becomes eligible on December 17, he’ll slide in alongside Bennett to form one of the nation’s most talented frontcourt duos. That’s a ridiculously long, athletic, rangy interior. And we’re not even considering what Moser brings to the court; talent-wise, no team in America matches that vaunted trio. Read the rest of this entry »
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Rushed Reactions: #12 Kansas 78, Washington State 41

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2012

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and correspondent. He filed this report from the second semifinal of the Edward Jones CBE Hall of Fame Classic Monday night.

Kansas throttled the Cougars in an even more impressive fashion than was expected coming into Monday night. Some key takeaways:

  1. Message Received By Jayhawks After Early Bumps: There’s no shame in losing to Michigan State on a neutral floor in Atlanta, but the Jayhawks needed an injection of tough love from Bill Self after falling behind to Chattanooga at home later that week. KU responded in the second half last Thursday and kept the momentum rolling from the opening tip against Washington State Monday night. The Jayhawks shot their way to a 50-point first half with a scorching 64% clip from the floor. Kansas clicked on the glass as well, rebounding five of its nine misses for an incredibly efficient start. Staked to a 29-point lead at the intermission, Self substituted freely throughout the second half, and as a result, his most important players should benefit from the rest with a one-night turnaround. In addition, the extra reps for players like Anrio AdamsAndrew White and Naadir Tharpe will serve the team well in the long run.
  2. Role Players Emerge For Kansas: While it wasn’t surprising to see KU perform well in front of a de facto home crowd, not many predicted the role Travis Releford would play Monday. The senior came into tonight’s contest shooting a bone-dry 26.1% from the floor, but made his first six shots, including a pair of threes, on his way to a game-high 17 points against the Cougars. Defensively, Kevin Young made good on his first start as a Jayhawk. The senior transfer starred alongside Jeff Withey and the two combined to fluster Wazzu in its attempts to penetrate. For KU to keep a lock on its conference championship streak, it needs consistency from its complementary players in addition to Withey and Elijah Johnson, who are expected to lead the team on a regular basis.
  3. Washington State Has Too Many Leaks For Ken Bone To Plug: Beating Kansas in its second home is a tall order for any team, but Washington State’s failure to make the game competitive at any point can’t bode well for Bone’s future in Pullman. While his portrayal of a disciplinarian in removing Reggie Moore from the team in September was admirable, Bone has struggled to pick up the pieces. Based on the combined 7-25 shooting night from Wazzu’s backcourt on Monday, the early returns in the quest for help can’t be much more discouraging. Brock Motum‘s international flavor at center is unorthodox enough to throw opposing big men off their games, but if no other threats emerge for Washington State, teams will simply continue to double Motum, knowing they can hedge away from other personnel. Coaches express emotions in several ways, but all Bone could do was shake his head as he watched Kansas make shot after shot. While it’s not advisable to make too much out of one bad game, Bone needs to find answers if his team is to make a run at a postseason tournament bid. The Pac-12 has climbed back to respectability, but Wazzu is still groping for the light switch.
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What Losing Reggie Moore Means for Washington State

Posted by KDanna on September 26th, 2012

News broke out of Pullman earlier this week that Washington State dismissed senior guard Reggie Moore from the basketball team for a violation of team rules.

Moore’s Loss Creates Opportunities For Others at Wazzu (SI/Heinz Kluetmeier)

You can take a look at his stats and see what the Cougars will be missing; their third-leading scorer (10.2 PPG), top distributor (5.2 APG) and one of their best perimeter defenders (his 33 steals led the Cougars) from last year’s 19-18 CBI runner-up squad. Beyond those numbers, however, he was a guy who the Cougars could lean on when the going got tough. In Game 1 of the CBI Championship, Moore hit what would prove to be the game-winning jumper with a little more than a minute to play. He was the second-leading scorer in that 67-66 victory over Pittsburgh, one in which the Cougars were without lead act Brock Motum (the Panthers would take the next two games to win the coveted CBI crown). He was also often the guy who would step up to the line and hit clutch free throws; his career 77 percent accuracy from the line is just the beginning of that story. In the CBI first round game against San Francisco, Moore twice went two-for-two from the line when the Dons had cut the lead down to six late in the second half. He would finish that game 12-13 from the charity stripe, including going 11-12 in the final five minutes. Going back to his freshman year in 2009-10, he went 6-6 from the stripe in the final 33 seconds to hold off a surging Stanford squad that had closed a 20-point halftime deficit down to two in the waning moments. Washington State eventually won that game 77-73.

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Morning Five: 09.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 25th, 2012

  1. If you’re in the market for an experienced scorer just a few weeks before practice begins and you missed out on the extremely late and unanticipated transfers of Xavier’s Dez Wells and Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi, you might still be in luck. Washington State shooting guard Reggie Moore was dismissed from his team on Monday for an undisclosed “violation of team rules,” effectively ending his career in Pullman and making him an immediate free agent for a team in need of some help. Even if Moore were able to find a school with an open scholarship at this late date, it’s unlikely he’d be eligible for the upcoming season anyway; but, Moore has shown flashes of offensive pop (10.7 PPG) and good play-making acumen (4.4 APG) in his three years at Wazzu. Whether Moore will be able to clean up his act (he was suspended in 2011 for marijuana possession) is another story, but sometimes the incentive of a last, best chance in a new environment is what it takes.
  2. On Monday ESPNU announced its television schedule for this year’s Midnight Madness whirlwind, scheduled to begin at 5 PM on October 12, which, if you’re scoring at home, is a shade over 17 days from now. The broadcast will begin at likely preseason #1 Indiana with an actual nuts-and-bolts practice rather than the fan frenzy Hoosier Hysteria (scheduled for one week later), and will be followed by a studio show peeking in on 12 other prominent programs including Kentucky, Missouri, Baylor, North Carolina, Georgetown, NC State, Syracuse, Murray State, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Florida State and Kansas. While we’re absolutely thrilled to have college basketball in any form coming back in two weeks and change, can we strongly encourage the producers at ESPNU to focus predominantly on the action on the floor at these schools rather than endlessly talking at us in the studio? There will be plenty of time for that as we get closer to the start of the season.
  3. In yesterday’s M5 we mentioned a piece by Gregg Doyel excoriating the NCAA for its presumed lack of interest in aggressively investigating the allegations involving Lance Thomas’ 2009 trip to a New York City jeweler. In the interest of equal time, today it’s North Carolina‘s turn. AOL Fanhouse‘s David Whitley doesn’t break any new ground in his scathing piece against the governing body (and his missive could be premature, depending on what the Martin Report shows), but the way in which he frames the NCAA’s lack of interest in the school’s academic scandal is amusing. Whitley’s best line: “The fact a basketball power like UConn got nailed shows that the NCAA is somewhat serious about putting the student in student-athlete. The fact UNC skated shows that the NCAA is still the NCAA. It wrote the manual on double standards and arbitrary justice. In fact, NCAA officials could teach a course on those subjects. If they taught it at North Carolina, it would be in front of an empty room.” The NCAA is an easy target to pile on — everyone knows that — but its weirdly inconsistent usage of precedent given very similar sets of facts is without question confounding.
  4. With rumors persisting that Class of 2014 superstar prep player Andrew Wiggins will reclassify to the Class of 2013 soon, one of his peers beat him to the idea. Noah Vonleh, a 6’8″ power forward who was considered a top five player in his class, has performed enough academic work at New Hampton School (NH) to reclassify as a senior for the current academic year. ESPN.com‘s Dave Telep reports on the move and says that Vonleh compares favorably with some of the elite players in his new class, rating him as ESPNU’s #7 overall player in the Class of 2013. This is actually the second reclassification for the 17-year old in that this move represents Vonleh’s return to his original class, so let’s hope that he’s finished moving around so that some lucky suitor — Indiana, Ohio State and UNC have recruited him the hardest — will have him in uniform just over a year from now.
  5. It’s nothing new that Butler’s Brad Stevens is a prominent user of advanced statistical metrics as a tool to understanding his team’s strengths and weaknesses. This article by WISH-TV in Indianapolis explains that one of Stevens’ directives for this offseason was for his staff (led by statistical wunderkind Drew Cannon) to determine what kind of RPI the Bulldogs will need heading into conference play to ensure an NCAA Tournament bid now that they’ve moved to the more competitive Atlantic 10. People game the system in all kinds of different ways — some ethical, some not — but we get the feeling that coaches like Stevens and Buzz Williams are so far ahead of their competitors in this regard that it’s astonishing to us that the rest of the coaching lemmings haven’t already fallen in line.
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RTC Live: Washington State @ Portland

Posted by rtmsf on November 20th, 2011

RTC Live heads to the Great Northwest for an interesting Pac-12 vs. WCC matchup this evening. So far this season the WCC is 3-1 against its bigger brother, but the only conference loss was Portland being blown out by Washington. Join us to see what happens tonight, after the jump:

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Klay Thompson

Posted by rtmsf on May 24th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Klay Thompson

School: Washington State

Height/Weight: 6’6, 206 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round

Overview: Klay Thompson is on the very short list of contenders for the title of best pure shooter in the draft. After shooting 41% from three and 42% from the field as a freshman, Thompson saw his averages dip a bit as a sophomore mostly as a result of a significantly increased role in the Cougar offense, as by last year he used 32% of his team’s possessions (good for 15th in the nation). Thompson led the Cougs in scoring in his final two seasons on the Paloose, and despite leaving a year of eligibility on the table, he comes to the draft as a pretty complete offensive player, with an NBA-ready game and a history of improving every year. As a freshman, he was more or less “just a shooter,” but he has since added a deft mid-range game, has become very comfortable with the ball in his hands, and has shown a crafty ability to get to the line, shooting 185 free throws as a junior, a drastic jump from the mere 31 he attempted from the line as a freshman in nearly as many minutes. Thompson is average at best athletically, and as a result does not project to be a great defender, but his 1.6 steals per game as a junior indicate that he is active enough to contribute defensively. He did get dinged with a possession of marijuana charge at the end of last year that raised some eyebrows, but that is generally just regarded as a minor blip for a good character kid.

Thompson Has Classic NBA Shooting Guard Skills

Will Translate to the NBA: When you can stroke it from deep like Thompson can, you’ve got a spot in the NBA. At 6’6, Thompson has the length to be able to get off his shot with ease, and is just good enough off the bounce and on the move to keep defenders honest and earn him clean looks from three. Thompson shot 39% from three in his career at WSU, and given that he was almost always the focal point of the opposition’s defense, that’s a mighty impressive number.

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Morning Five: 04.18.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2011

  1. Mike DeCourcy wrote an article late last week attempting to explode the myths surrounding the one-and-done phenomenon, and although he takes a different tact than we would with it, we both pretty much arrive in the same place.  As our analyses of one-and-doners from 2007-10 have shown, having a single-year player pass through your program can help in ways beyond merely Ws and Ls — it can also help with marketing, recruiting and elevating the general cachet of the school.  Through last summer, we estimated that 20 of the 35 one-and-doners (57%) had either been worth it or well worth it, and we don’t expect that  percentage to change much after this year’s crop is settled. (see our yearly analyses here: 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010)  Does this mean that that programs with large amounts of annual one-and-done turnover will lack the experience needed to win the national title — possibly, but no coach is going to turn down elite talent on the happenstance that he may only play college ball for one year (or two, if the NBA’s CBA changes soon).
  2. Speaking of the next great crop of elite players, the Jordan Brand Classic occurred Saturday night in Charlotte, with a large number of the top prospects in the Class of 2011 showing their stuff.  UNC recruit James McAdoo and Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis shared the MVP honors, with McAdoo hitting the clinching FTs with 1.6 seconds remaining to lead his East squad to the victory over Davis’ West team.  We’ll have much more on this later today in our Who’s Got Next? post, but let’s just say that Kentucky fans are drooling over the duo of Davis (29/11) and Marquis Teague playing off each other next season.
  3. Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto announced on Friday that he will be leaving Pullman to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.  The junior averaged 12/7 last season for the Cougs and was selected to the all-Pac-10 second team.  Although he is questionable in terms of draftability, he became a father in 2010 and that no doubt influenced his decision to leave school.  He mentioned in his statement that he would be fine with playing overseas for a little while first.  Let’s hope it works out for him.
  4. Some weekend transfer news…  LaSalle’s Aaric Murray has apparently narrowed his choices down to either Kansas or West Virginia.  The 6’10 sophomore averaged 15/8 last season in his second consecutive all-Big Five season for the Explorers.  He will have to sit out the 2011-12 season, but would be well poised to step into a starting role at either school after Thomas Robinson and Kevin Jones move through their respective programs.  Over in Syracuse, Jim Boeheim intimated that troubled freshman Dion Waiters may be on the outs sooner rather than later, noting during the weekend that “sometimes change is better for everyone.”  Waiters is considered a possible star in the making, but his attitude has gotten him into hot water at SU and he may have to blossom elsewhere next year.
  5. An estimated 40,000 fans turned out in Hartford to celebrate the UConn Huskies’ national championship season on Saturday afternoon.  Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker and the rest were all smiles as they paraded through the streets on a double-decker bus carrying the hardware they earned in Houston two Mondays ago.  The Hartford Courant had a bunch of great pictures on their site which we suggest you check out, but the below photo was our favorite one.  Given the cash-strapped state of the Connecticut government, it took a considerable amount of private proceeds from local businesses to make the parade actually happen (instead of a much smaller rally), which shows just how much the area supports their team — when it came to put up or shut up, they put up their own funds to make it happen.

    Kemba & Co. Celebrated in Style Sunday (H-C/B.Hansen)

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RTC Live: NIT Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2011

The NIT field has been whittled from 32 to four as the semifinalists take center stage tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York. Two top seeds have made it to the Big Apple, Colorado and Alabama, and they’ll play in the nightcap. The first game features Klay Thompson and Washington State going up against Wichita State, a team that knocked off #1 seed Virginia Tech in Blacksburg nine days ago. All four teams were in the NCAA Tournament picture late into the season so this should be an exciting doubleheader. Alabama and Colorado have not been significantly challenged in this tournament and that’s a credit to both Anthony Grant and Tad Boyle for keeping their respective teams motivated in the face of what they perceived as NCAA snubs. Motivation is always a question mark in this tournament and both teams have done a nice job putting the past behind them and focusing on the here and now. Washington State has rebounded nicely from Thompson’s suspension which took them out of NCAA contention with a late season loss to UCLA. The storyline around Wichita State is whether their head coach, Gregg Marshall, will remain in that position after this tournament. Marshall will be on the lists of some prominent programs and may leave Wichita for greener pastures. Join RTC Live from the Garden tonight for what should be a fun doubleheader.

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NIT: Refresher at the Quarterfinal Round

Posted by rtmsf on March 23rd, 2011

Walker Carey is an RTC contributor.

Given all the media and fan attention on the NCAA Tournament, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there were 32 other teams (several pretty good ones) playing on (mostly) the off days.  The NIT is the grand-daddy of postseason basketball, so let’s get you briefly caught up on where that tournament is at the quarterfinal stage.

Alabama Bracket

The first two rounds in the Alabama Bracket have seen the top seeds advancing in each game, which sets up a quarterfinal game between top seeded Alabama and second seeded Miami (FL) Wednesday night. Alabama has used solid performances from guards Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford, as well as from big man JaMychal Green to breeze past Coastal Carolina and New Mexico in home games. The Hurricanes have gotten solid guard play from Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott to earn victories over Florida Atlantic and Missouri State in Coral Gables. The quarterfinals will come down to whether Frank Haith’s team can find scoring options against one of the better defensive teams still playing basketball this season.  The winner advance to the semifinals in New York City.

Colorado Bracket

The first round of the Colorado Bracket gave us two of the biggest upsets of the tournament thus far. After getting their bubble burst on Selection Sunday, second seeded Saint Mary’s was upset at home by seventh seeded Kent State after blowing a 13-point lead. The first round also saw third seeded Colorado State lose at home to sixth seeded Fairfield. The Golden Flashes topped the Stags in the second round to advance to the quarterfinal. In the top half of the bracket, Colorado has used strong performances from standouts Alec Burks and Cory Higgins to easily defeat Texas Southern, California and Kent State in succession.  The Buffs are playing like a team with a chip on its shoulder, and will advance to NYC to await the winner of the Alabama-Miami (FL) game.

Boston College Bracket

The first round of the Boston College Bracket saw all the top seeds advance and do so fairly convincingly. However, things changed in the second round, as top seeded Boston College was blown out at home by fourth seeded Northwestern. The Wildcats used a balanced attack led by John Shurna and Michael Thompson to throttle the Eagles. Elsewhere in the second round, Washington State used a strong performance from star guard Klay Thompson to get past third seed Oklahoma State by a 74-64 margin. The second round results set up a quarterfinal matchup between fourth seed Northwestern and second seed Washington State. Considering that the game will be played in Pullman and Klay Thompson might be the best player in the NIT this year, Wazzu should advance to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden next week.

Virginia Tech Bracket

The first round of the Virginia Tech Bracket contained the top individual performance of the tournament thus far. College of Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock netted 39 points to lead the sixth seeded Cougars to an upset victory over three seed Dayton. The Cougars remained hot in the second round by knocking out star guard Norris Cole and the Cleveland State Vikings. The top half of the bracket saw top seed Virginia Tech and fourth seed Wichita State advance to the second round where the Hokies and Shockers battled in an overtime classic. In the end, Wichita State was able to ride a balanced scoring effort to defeat the Hokies and overcome Malcolm Delaney’s 30 points. Both the Cougars and the Shockers are on a roll heading into the quarterfinal Wednesday night, making it a tough game to predict, but if Goudelock catches fire for Bobby Cremins’ squad then College of Charleston will enjoy a trip to New York as the sole mid-major representative next week in Manhattan. 

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Conference Tournament Daily Diary: Thursday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 11th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Today’s coverage:  ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West & Pac-10.

ACC Tournament – by Kellen Carpenter

  • Miami-Virginia.  This was a truly bizarre game that I’m still not sure makes any sense.  Greensboro Coliseum was surprisingly packed for a 12 pm game between the 8 and 9 seed. Both teams boasted sizable and vocal fanbases who were each treated to a game of runs. Miami jumped out ahead, leading by six at the half, and then one of the weirdest second halves I have ever seen happened. Miami only scored eight points over the first 18 minutes of the second half. Virginia, rallying strongly, jumped out to a 50-39 lead with 2:15 left on the clock. Then Miami went nuts.  No, really. I’m still not sure what happened. The crowd was whipped into a frenzy by a series of weird, truly improbably events. Miami cut the eleven point deficit and forced an overtime which the Hurricanes suddenly dominated and walked away with a truly unexpected win. For a the first game of the ACC Tournament, it was not just a dinger, but a hum-dinger. Whenever you can get a crowd of Floridians and Virginians to scream their heads off in the early afternoon in North Carolina, you’ve put on quite a show. Beyond that, nothing about this game mattered.
  • Wake-BC.  After the drama of the Miami and Virginia game, any game with a team that had only managed to win one ACC game over the course of the season was bound to be a letdown. What was surprising to me, was the letdown in crowd energy. Winston-Salem, home of Wake’s campus, is a mere 20 minutes away, yet it seemed like the Demon Deacons had fewer fans present than Miami. Boston College had a very small and quiet contingent who seemed happy to quietly watch as the Eagles just took apart Wake. It really wasn’t much of a game, with the hyper-efficient Boston College offense firing on all cylinders (well, excepting the Raji cylinder). Reggie Jackson scored 27 points on 13 shots. Joe Trapani scored 22 points on 12 shots.  Nicholas Biko scored 21 points on 12 shots. Wake Forest’s porous defense could do little to stop them, and their impotence on the offensive end doomed them. Freshman Travis McKie was a bright spot, going 6-8 in the first half while the rest of his team struggled. But, for some stupefying reason, McKie only got two shots in the second half, one of these being a put-back dunk of his own manufacture. If there is a silver lining to that second half, it’s the fact that Wake actually managed to outscore BC, 36-34. Sadly, this was clearly not enough to make up for the 16 point deficit incurred in the first half. My favorite part of this game, was clearly the few, loud Wake Forest fans sitting directly behind me. One woman seemed particularly keen on trying to coach Travis McKie’s admittedly poor free throw shooting (2-5). Every time he got to the line she would yell “Bend your knees! Follow through!” If only he had listened? The season is mercifully over for Wake, and BC will get it’s chance at tougher competition tomorrow when they take on Clemson.
  • NC State-Maryland.  There were, as you might expect, an alarming number of loud, red-wearing people at this game. Maryland jumped out to an early lead which energized/enraged these loud, red-wearing fans. In response, the N.C. State band played Cee-Lo’s “Eff You,” which, when you think about it, is a perfect pep band song: catchy and insulting to the other team, while the lack of singing effectively makes it family friendly. Well-played, Wolf Pack band. That said, the pep band arrangement of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song was pretty excellent as well. And if the bands played with flair, the teams did too. There was more speed, athleticism, and acrobatic drives on display in this game than in the first two games combined. Cross-overs, spin moves, and behind the back dribbles on the fast break had the crowd frequently on its collective feet. Does Tracy Smith have the MVB (Most Valuable Beard) of this tournament? It’s hard to see anyone overtaking him. Maryland looked in command the whole game, but since Miami’s Miracle, there was a palpable nervousness in the crowd until the buzzer finally went off.
  • Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech controlled this game from the start and once it became clear that Georgia Tech could never catch up, the crowd that had gathered for the previous game started to vanish. Virginia Tech’s fans were consistently loud and even when the Hokies’ lead exceeded twenty, the fans took every call against them as if the game depended on it. Meanwhile, the Georgia Tech fans seemed resigned to his fate. Georgia Tech never managed to score more than a point per minute in the first half. It was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a tournament setting, and remember, I watched the Wake Forest game earlier today. Virginia Tech played well enough, but I couldn’t help but be concerned about the minutes that the starters were playing. Malcolm Delaney played 39 minutes despite the massive lead VT held throughout. He only sat for the final minute of the game and that was after he had taken a needless hard foul. You have to wonder how such long minutes on consecutive days are going to affect the Hokies hopes of going deep into this tournament. Well, you don’t have to worry, but I would.

Big East Tournament – by Rob Dauster

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